German feminists and the headscarf

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Women and high heels

is quite right about the harmful physical effects of high heels.

Yet that is only half the story as women know.

Research confirms:

Nicolas Guéguen. High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2014 DOI: 10.1007/s10508-014-0422-z

that women who wear such high heels are viewed as more physically and sexually attractive.

Sexuality is a deeply rooted element of human nature, and

it is entirely understandable that humans,

if offered a clothing item that is at once both

damaging to one’s health while simultaneously

helpful to one’s sexual attractiveness

will freely choose to wear such clothing.

That choice is not due to oppression but rather due to a human desire to maximize one’s sexuality.

Other research:

Jeff Galak, Kurt Gray, Igor Elbert, Nina Strohminger. Trickle-Down Preferences: Preferential Conformity to High Status Peers in Fashion Choices. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (5): e0153448 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153448

shows that women who wear high heels are viewed as being of higher social status.

The desire by humans and most primates for higher social status is innate.

If a specific type of shoe can yield all those benefits, small wonder that many women choose them.

C Klingman 4 days ago

Women and high heels

is quite right about the harmful physical effects of high heels.

Yet that is only half the story as women know.

Research confirms:

Nicolas Guéguen. High Heels Increase Women’s Attractiveness. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2014 DOI: 10.1007/s10508-014-0422-z

that women who wear such high heels are viewed as more physically and sexually attractive.

Sexuality is a deeply rooted element of human nature, and

it is entirely understandable that humans,

if offered a clothing item that is at once both

damaging to one’s health while simultaneously

helpful to one’s sexual attractiveness

will freely choose to wear such clothing.

That choice is not due to oppression but rather due to a human desire to maximize one’s sexuality.

Other research:

Jeff Galak, Kurt Gray, Igor Elbert, Nina Strohminger. Trickle-Down Preferences: Preferential Conformity to High Status Peers in Fashion Choices. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (5): e0153448 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153448

shows that women who wear high heels are viewed as being of higher social status.

The desire by humans and most primates for higher social status is innate.

If a specific type of shoe can yield all those benefits, small wonder that many women choose them.

C. Klingman 4 days ago

Excellent points

Jacinta - saw you tonight and came back to read this. It's great.
I love your comments about younger women being a tad deluded about the reality of getting older. Spot on!! I'm probably 20 years older than you and oof - absolutely this!
And the headscarf thing - brilliant point about high heels - exactly!!

Carol McGuigan 5 days ago

Women and clothing

Ms Nandi is quite right when she states:

“Women should be free to choose what they want to wear.”

Yet she does not address what limits if any there should be.

If a female teacher, for example, freely chooses and wears clothing obviously intended to resemble closely the uniform of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (but with the absence of the symbol illegal in Germany) should that be permissible ?

If not, why not ?

Are there limits on clothing (not nudity) that women should be permitted to wear and does the setting matter ?

C Klingman 6 days ago

The state is not feminist, it is blatantly racist.

Well, the difference is that the German state is being not feminist, it is being racist. They don't won't to end up women's oppression. They want to end up the 'islam oppression' only to oppress on their own terms. The proportion of women in German parliament has been fallen since 2017. And is 30% at the moment. And only 8% of its Members have migrant background... The state is not feminist, it is just racist.

Juli Boissour 14 days ago

Some nuance, please

Is there a lot of headscarf-related oppression in certain working-class immigrant milieus? Yes. Is there a lot of headscarf-related freedom in other milieus? Also yes. I am a non-religious Arab woman from a middle-class Muslim family, and I was given a choice (which is to say my parents never even considered it appropriate to broach the subject, because it was a personal matter). The same was true of those of my female cousins who now wear the hijab: zero were forced to, and all(!) have non-veiled mothers. If anecdotal evidence suddenly counts for anything, there's mine.

It's important, first of all, not to confound religious attire with the questionable practices of specific groups. The headscarf is indelibly entangled with Muslim-German identity, which is to say that its spread is the result not so much of religious conviction as of fraught social relations between a majority society and Muslim minorities. It is, in no small part, the symbol of a backlash. And the sexist oppression discussed here is real, but not (or not only) the result of 'Islam', but education/background/defiance on the part of frustrated males. This doesn't excuse the latter, but without attending to that problem, headscarf bans amount to a stopgap solution at best. I hate to break it to Europe, but headscarf bans are not protecting Muslim women from sexist oppression.

It would be far more effective (and no less patronising) to force all parents to attend children's-rights classes than to prohibit women from wearing a headscarf. Body-related prohibitions aren't the way: so with drugs, as with clothing. I agree with Sophie Konner that more needs to be done: family violence is real and it is widespread. But superficial bans, to reiterate, are no solution. A whole system of parenting needs to be overhauled, gradually and sensitively.

Lamees K 16 days ago

feminists and the headscarf

This is once again „Nandi simplification“. I went to school with Muslim girls who were scared to be caught without their head scarf during running class etc by their brother. I know a girl who got smacked and bullied by her brother for even asking to sometimes be able to take it off. This is not uncommo. I’m born in Keuzberg, I spend my whole life next to girls who are oppressed in that way by their fathers and brothers. To compare that to high heels is a joke.

Sophie Konner 17 days ago

Being born in Kreuzberg does not an expert make

Being shamed and not given a choice about a headscarf as a child sounds horrible, but that doesn't make the western patriarchy a false equivalence. White families discourage little girls from having upside down in skirts, encourage them to wear heels to their school dances and graduations. When I was a child the standard presents for my male cousins were chocolates and cars, while my sister and I got jewelry boxes to groom is into a life of being accessories.

I know Western women who have chronic injuries from their impractical heels. I know one higher paid woman whose dress code was so strict she insisted on a boot for a broken ankle so she could take it off and slip into her heels in front of clients.

Berlin is a little different, but just try showing up for a job interview as a woman not wearing heels in most other western capital cities.

Some women want to wear heels, and should be able to. Some women want to wear headscarves and should be able to. We should stop supporting ridiculous rules that take away any woman's right to choose.

Em 17 days ago

False equivalence

It absolutely is a false equivalence. The examples I gave are the day to day hassles not the many cases of extrem oppression I witnessed. Muslim girls encounter a great deal of violence from their brothers which no one likes to talk about. And yes my childhood in Kreuzberg and my friendship with many Turkish girls over many years gave me great inside. It is shocking to me how little this is talked about and I choose with care not to write anything sensational here on an open forum. But to read the head scarf getting compared with heels or the pink toy you got for Christmas makes my blood boil.
The point is that even in a society that ”grooms” girls to wear clothes that sexualizes them, you do have the choice to not participate. I sure did. I gave up working in a certain environment because of this and chose not to wreck my body over a stupid dress code. It was my choice and no one came after me for it. You can write feminist on your flag and your family won’t hunt you down to inflict pain on you. They might even disown you, but you’ll live. A ban is not the way but the Turkish girls I knew that wished for the ability to choose had no help , no protection and no law on their side. A lot more needs to be done.

Sophie Konner 16 days ago

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